Bradford Bulls 18 St Helens 32
St Helens overcame the self- imposed handicap of having a man sent off in each half and still outclassed a thoroughly embarrassed Bradford at Odsal last night.
Bradford had a gap in their own ranks with the non-appearance of the terminally unsettled Paul Newlove, the victim of a sudden back complaint, but that is no excuse for their failure to make a two-man advantage tell.
Saints were 18-6 ahead when Vila Matutia became the first to be sent off. There could be little argument about the Western Samoan's second dismissal of the season for a blatant high tackle on Eugene Bourneville.
Andy Northey's departure, 12 minutes into the second half, was more debatable, the referee, Russell Smith, sending him to join Matutia after what appeared to be an instinctive fling of the arm after Simon Knox had wrong- footed him.
The real condemnation of Bradford's efforts is that even after that St Helens scored two tries to one in the time remaining.
Their try-scoring had begun in the fourth minute with Bobbie Goulding's high kick and Steve Prescott's leap to steer the ball into Adam Fogerty's arms.
After 15 minutes, they were 12 points ahead, Joey Hayes capitalising on Northey's drive towards the corner to go in for the first of his two tries.
After another seven minutes, Saints were disappearing out of sight when Matutia prefaced his early exit by stretching over to score.
But then Carlos Hassan, in the side for the indisposed Newlove, pounced on a Saints mistake near their line, and before half-time Bradford had reduced the lead of the 12 Saints to a single converted try when Carl Hall was too strong for Prescott.
A well-timed pass from Goulding to Northey got them away to a flying start in the second half, but when Northey followed Matutia's example by getting himself sent off soon after his try, it seemed that weight of numbers must tell.
Instead, Saints still managed, quite mystifyingly, to outnumber Bradford when and where it counted, Hayes touching down from Karle Hammond's kick and Prescott seizing on one from Goulding.
Roger Simpson, Bradford's best player by a distance, did manage a late try, but that could hardly wipe out the ignominy of being so convincingly beaten.
If there is any consolation, it may be that the extent of this embarrassment might shock the Bulls back into some semblance of form.
"Where there is most pain there is sometimes most gain," Brian Smith, the Bradford coach, philosophised.
Bradford Bulls: R Simpson; Christie, Hall, Hassan (Scales, 52), Ellis; Graham, Paul; Ireland (McDermott, 28), Donohue, Bourneville, Knox, Medley (Boothroyd, 52), Wilson.
St Helens: Prescott; Hayes, Northey, Loughlin (Lyon, 30), Sullivan; Hammond, Goulding; Fogerty (Waring, 52), Cunningham, Dwyer, Pickavance (Morley, 49; Perelini, 73), Matautia, Joynt.
Referee: R Smith (Castleford).Reuse content